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‘Do it for the badge’: 20-year-old Blitzboks star shines bright during tough SVNS win

By Finn Morton
Quewin Nortje of South Africa scores a try against New Zealand during the HSBC SVNS rugby tournament on December 2, 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Martin Dokoupil/Getty Images)

With their pool play clash with the United States hanging in the balance on Saturday afternoon, the Cape Town crowd let out a series of deafening cheers as a rising star made match-defining plays.

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20-year-old Quewin Nortje was the hero for the Blitzboks as they maintained their unbeaten start to 2023/24 on the opening day of the second SVNS leg of the season with a 26-14 win.

Nortje made a brilliant covering tackle to prevent a certain runaway try for the United States during the first half, and the youngster practically decided the match with a try assist later at the death.

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The passionate South African crowd celebrated Nortje’s breathtaking passages of play with deafening cheers that echoed throughout the Cape Town venue – making memories that will never be forgotten by those in attendance.

With thousands of supporters watching on at the Cape Town Stadium, Nortje got “goosebumps” listening to their fandom as the flow on from the World Cup continues to grip the rugby nation.

“I just do it for the badge on my chest, that’s why I’m doing it,” Nortje told RugbyPass less than five minutes after the Blitzboks’ hard-fought win.

“Before every game the captain says, ‘We’re playing for each other and the badge on our chest.’

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“If you don’t work for the badge on your chest I don’t think you deserve a place in this team… doing everything for that badge and the people around you.”

The Blitzboks raced out to a 14-nil lead after tries to Ryan Oosthuizen and Rosko Specman on either side of half-time. They appeared to be sailing towards a big win, but the US had other ideas.

South African Justin Geduld was sent to the sin bin during the first half, and that one-player advantage inspired a rapid two-try blitz from American Lucas Lacamp.

Thousands cheered, chanted and celebrated every moment of the match while a palpable sense of nervousness echoed through the Western Cape venue.

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It appeared destined to come down to one moment of magic from a talented team, and with the ball finding Nortje in the 13th minute, that’s exactly what happened.

With all the pressure that comes with being a Blitzboks player at the Cape Town SVNS, Nortje thrived in the moment by lofting the ball over to Impi Visser who crossed for the match-winner in the 13th minute.

“I must say that when I was waiting for Rosko (Specman) to pass it I was worried that he was going to shoot on me the quick pass,” Nortje added during just his second international SVNS event.

“It went quickly through my mind, just do the basics well.”

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